WWE announced a significant overhaul to their creative process several hours ago. The creative teams for Raw and SmackDown have been merged into one unit. Paul Heyman was removed from his role as the head of Raw creative, and Bruce Prichard will now lead creative for both Raw and SmackDown.
We’ve seen some variation of this story play out several times in the past: ratings or financials are trending in the wrong direction, therefore Vince McMahon finds a scapegoat, removes that person from an important position, and then promises things will improve. The boss won’t fire himself, after all.
I’ll try to keep this short and to the point, because there’s no need to write a novel here.
- Paul Heyman was not the problem with Raw.
- Bruce Prichard will not solve Raw’s problems.
- The common denominator in these situations is always Vince McMahon.
McMahon hires the wrong people (Eric Bischoff) for important positions, retains high level employees who are flat out bad at their jobs (Kevin Dunn), and struggles to find fresh and qualified people for these roles.
Go watch an episode of Raw from shortly before the coronavirus pandemic, and compare it to just about any episode of Raw from 2005 or so. They look like nearly the same show, and that’s a big problem. WWE’s audience is old, as are Vince McMahon’s ideas; McMahon doesn’t know how to capture younger viewers anymore.
McMahon’s capacity for creative thinking is no longer adequate. It hasn’t been adequate in several years, and that becomes more apparent with each passing month. For roughly a decade now he has tried to solve problems on Raw or SmackDown by emphasizing nostalgia, part-time talent, pushing the same handful of wrestlers, and stubbornly trying to assert his will on the audience. He got away with this inflexible strategy for a long time, longer than I expected he could, but it’s clearly not working anymore.
WWE can get away with Vince McMahon’s insufficient leadership for several more years. They are essentially idiot-proof due to their massive television contracts. But the core inside has been rotting for a while, and WWE is failing to address the root cause.
Vince McMahon is the problem with Raw.